• Valley Project

Then & now: Blacks Rd corner

How much has North East Valley changed in the past 100 years?

I was on the hunt through one of our cupboards at the Valley Project recently when I came across a box full of old photographs of scenes of North East Valley.

Before I knew it, two hours had gone by as I looked through the pictures trying to visualise what a particular scene would look like in comparison today.

As a keen photographer I thought it would be a fun project to try to recreate old pictures in their modern context.

Historic photograph of Thomson General Store on corner of Blacks Rd and North Rd, North East Valley, Dunedin, NZ
The general store on the corner of Blacks Rd and North Rd estimated to be some time in the 1920s

This picture, taken on the corner of Blacks Rd and North Rd, seemed like a good place to start, especially given the old-time feel recreated by today’s Blacks Road Grocer.

The undated photograph (top left) was published in the Valley Voice’s May 2011 History Notes column written by Gary Blackman.

Gary estimated the picture was taken some time in the 1920s. Melhuish, the dominant sign in the windows, was a Christchurch-based company known for its Worcester and tomato sauces, pickles and relishes.

The shop dates from the early 1900s, writes Gary, when John Thomson set up as a grocer. He was followed by his son Albert Victor Thomson until the early 1940s. The shop has gone through many changes of hands since then.

Blacks Road Grocer on the corner of Blacks Rd and North Rd, North East Valley, Dunedin, NZ
Blacks Road Grocer as it looks today.

Today it is named Blacks Road Grocer and is owned by Christopher Wilson, who has taken it back to its vintage feel. Christopher is still in the process of updating the store’s signage.

Just like an old-fashioned community shop, wares include handmade preserves, relishes and sauces, free-range eggs, cheeses, honey and ‘real milk’ in glass bottles, along with “good honest food, just like our mum or nana used to make”. —Edith Leigh


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